Games today (Marikina Sports Complex)
3 p.m. – Cafe France vs Racal
5 p.m. – Tanduay vs Cignal-San Beda
MANILA, Philippines - Cignal-San Beda hopes to ride the crest of its eight-game run as it takes on Tanduay even as Racal tries to reassert its mastery over Cafe France in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup semifinals at the Marikina Sports Complex today.
The top-seeded Hawkeyes (8-1) tangle with the Rhum Masters at 5 p.m. at the start of their best-of-three series, looking to duplicate their 85-71 romp in the eliminations.
Cignal has never dropped a game since losing to AMA Online Education, 85-94, last Jan. 24, piling up victories to clinch an outright semis berth.
But six-time league champion coach Boyet Fernandez remains wary of the Rhum Masters, who swept their last four games, including their quarterfinal faceoff with the AMA the Titans last Thursday.
“We really wanted to bring the positive attitude going to the semis (in coming off with a win). We’re facing Tanduay, a very strong team, so we just have to be ready with that,” said Fernandez, who will pin his hopes on Jason Perkins, Robert Bolick and Jayvee Mocon.
The Rhum Masters, on the other hand, hope to neutralize the school-based core of Cignal on a team built around ex-pros Mark Cruz and Jerwin Gaco.
“All teams have to find their own niche. The other teams have the luxury of their school-based core. I have to find mine and I thought getting ex-pros is the way to go,” said Tanduay head coach Lawrence Chongson who drew averages of 22.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and one steal from pint-sized playmaker Cruz and norms of 15 markers, 8.5 boards and two assists from 36-year-old Gaco in their four-game streak.
Meanwhile, the Tile Masters, who also gained an outright semis seat by finishing at No. 2 after the elims, gun for a repeat of their 82-78 escape over the Bakers in the elims when they meet at 3 p.m. in their side of the Final Four.
“Facing Cafe France is a nightmare for us. Knowing coach Egay (Macaraya), they are always tough to beat. Even in our scrimmages and tune-up games, they always make us go through the eye of the needle. That is always the situation whenever we go up against them,” said Racal head coach Jerry Codiñera who will rely on Jackson Corpuz, Kent Salado, Sydney Onwubere and Rey Nambatac as they step up their bid for a first finals appearance for the franchise.
Cafe France, meanwhile, is coming off a victory over Jose Rizal University in the quarterfinals which, according to Macaraya, only exposed their weakness.
“We really have a difficult time with zone defense. That is what JRU was able to show,” said Macaraya who tapped the services of Joseph Sedurifa, who averaged 17 points in his stint with Batangas, in their previous outing to bolster their title drive.
The Bakers will lean on Congolese big man Rod Ebondo, Paul Desiderio and Sedurifa who logged 15 points in their last assignment, as they try to work on the consistency lacking in their previous matches.